Buildfire is a well-known and successful app builder platform that is used to build iOS and Android apps faster and more affordably than native development. The same is equally true of MobiLoud. That’s where the similarities end though. In this piece we’re going to give an overview of each platform and compare them where it really matters – who they are for and what they do.
Obviously we’re biased – we’re not expecting you to take our word for it, but we’re going to link to customer reviews so you can see for yourself, and stick to the facts in this article. Let’s get started with an overview.
MobiLoud vs BuildFire – What are They?
Let’s take a look at both platforms and go into what they are and how they work. After an overview we’ll look at the key differences.
What is BuildFire?
BuildFire is a drag and drop app builder platform that let’s users build a variety of mobile apps for iOS and Android. Users will drag and drop UI components within one of their templates, and can use one or more of the numerous plugins in order to build the functionality of the app.
BuildFire often bill themselves as the “WordPress of mobile apps”. This is reasonably accurate, as you essentially build apps using one of the templates (like a WordPress theme), and flesh out the functionality through plugins – although the infrastructure of plugins is of course less mature than that of WordPress.
What is MobiLoud?
MobiLoud is a platform, combined with a service – for converting an existing website into iOS and Android apps. We have three distinct platforms:
- News – for digital publishers to build news apps from WordPress content sites
- Commerce – for WooCommerce site owners to build native eCommerce apps
- Canvas – for converting any website or web app, no matter the CMS, into mobile apps
MobiLoud’s service includes submission to Google Play and the App Store, and ongoing updates and maintenance for the lifetime of the apps. Our platforms are a superior BuildFire alternative if you already have a site or web app. We’ll see why in the rest of this article.
MobiLoud vs BuildFire – the key differences
Here are the key differences between the two platforms. Read through them and you’ll get a good idea whether MobiLoud is the BuildFire alternative for you.
Convert your site vs build through templates
With BuildFire, you build through one of their templates and piece the functionality together through various widgets and plugins. You can maybe connect the apps to your existing backend in some limited fashion, although this will be only possible on their Enterprise plan. The app will be distinct from your web presence – except for the shared branding.
As all MobiLoud apps are built from websites, there is no question about whether the apps will sync with your existing backend – it’s a given. This works differently on News, Commerce and Canvas – but the principle is the same. There are no “templates”, but rather a native skin around your existing site (Canvas), or native mobile apps that pull content from your CMS (News and Commerce) – that gives a solid mobile user experience and puts your web content in app form.
Done for you vs DIY
BuildFire users on the standard plans are responsible for building their own apps. If you read the case studies on the main site, many users spend a couple of months hacking together the apps. It’s up to you to figure out how the app will work, and how to make it happen within the limitations of the template and wider platform.
MobiLoud is a great BuildFire alternative in this regard because we handle the build process for you. It starts off with a strategy call where we define the vision for the app, you configure some key facets of the design and features in our dashboard – then our team builds the apps. It’s a hands off process, guaranteeing a solid result, and will be done and ready to test in under two weeks.
Use your existing features vs build your own
With BuildFire, you can’t directly reuse any features or functionality from your existing site or database. There may be ways to replicate some basic functionality through plugins, and then on the custom plan hook it up with a back end. It’s safe to assume that it will be difficult and tradeoffs will be required though. BuildFire suggests that if you cannot find the plugin you need you can build it yourself, or go on their “Plus” plan which starts at $4,500 at the very low end for simple custom apps. Needless to say you will not be able to build the exact plugin you want unless hire a skilled developer to dedicate significant time to the project. Is it worth adding to your team and spending thousands on?
MobiLoud is a great BuildFire alternative here because there is no rebuilding or heavy custom work to recreate your existing features. In the case of Canvas – all your site’s features, widgets, plugins, tools, and custom functionality from the web will work straight out of the box in the apps. With News and Commerce, we have pre built integrations for a wide variety of WordPress plugins and can find a way to transfer your existing functionality and features into the apps.
There’s also no need to worry about connecting anything to your existing database. MobiLoud apps use your existing web CMS as the backend as standard, and the apps will update automatically with any changes on your site – so there’s nothing extra to really manage or add to your workflow.
The limitations of BuildFire are the limitations of their platform itself. If it doesn’t fit into the templates, and there isn’t a plugin for it – you’re pretty much stuck or reliant on paying them thousands of dollars to find a workaround. That said, we can see that they have pre-built modules for a lot of use cases. The real limitations are going to be in terms of connecting your apps to external data sources and integrating them into your existing workflows. This will be tricky and expensive.
The limitations of MobiLoud are the limitations of the web itself. If you want something in your apps that can only be achieved through custom built native apps – like using the accelerometer or facial recognition – then you need to build natively. If it is possible on the web though, it is possible with MobiLoud apps. For most cases – translating the web presence to app form is more than enough for building solid apps.
BuildFire seems to offer good customer support through a ticket system. If you need specific support from a developer it will be billed at $250/h. Higher tiers get different levels of support, and BuildFire has an extensive library of tutorials and documentation to work it out if need be.
MobiLoud is a great BuildFire alternative in this regard, because we give personalised on-on-one support to each customer. You will know our team by name, and have access to our product manager through email or Zoom if necessary.
Both MobiLoud and BuildFire help with app submission, we guarantee approval, and take care of updates and maintenance on the apps as part of the license.
MobiLoud vs BuildFire – Who are They For?
The two platforms have different ideal users. BuildFire is good for those who are starting out with a specific idea for a relatively simple app in mind, but don’t have the skill or cash to get it built natively. It works well for businesses that do not already have a primary web platform, or who want apps that are very different and not connected to the main site. BuildFire is also for those who are looking for a project and willing to get their hands dirty a bit with some fiddling, and don’t mind the limitations of the templates. If you’re a business owner who doesn’t have underworked developers on-staff, this isn’t practical.
MobiLoud is for established businesses that already have a successful website or web app – and want the advantages of mobile apps like push notifications, an App Store presence, more loyalty and engagement, and a better mobile UX. If it works well for the mobile web, it will also work well as mobile apps. MobiLoud is also for those who want the tricky parts done for them. All you need to do is some light configuration (no code required) – and we handle the rest.
MobiLoud vs BuildFire Reviews
The best places to check BuildFire reviews and MobiLoud reviews are:
- G2 Crowd (MobiLoud reviews / BuildFire reviews)
- Capterra (MobiLoud reviews / BuildFire reviews)
- MobiLoud customer case studies (Foreign Policy, Simple Flying, Leaderbooks, Tech-Talk, Metziahs)
- BuildFire reviews / case studies page
It’s worth checking out the reviews for each on these pages. You’ll see the pros and cons of BuildFire, and why MobiLoud is a great BuildFire alternative!
MobiLoud vs BuildFire pricing
Let’s take a look at the pricing for each platform. Both have different tiers for different needs, and with BuildFire in particular the pricing can vary widely depending on requirements for the apps.
BuildFire’s plans range from $159/m on the Growth plan for simple apps for iOS and Android with limited plugin and feature options, to $299/m on the Business plan which gives you more features, some more premium plugins, and more bandwidth for active users and push notifications.
On both of these plans there is no developer support or dedicated account management included, you may need to buy premium plugins that range from $20 to $70 per month each depending on your need.
If you need more, then the Enterprise Plan at $424/m gives you more features, premium plugins, and a dedicated account manager. If you want developer support, it is provided at $250/hr.
Read more on the site for clarification.
MobiLoud Canvas pricing starts at $80/m (or $100/m paid monthly) for early stage startups and supports up to 1000 active users. This includes hands-on technical support from our developers, apps for iOS, Android and tablet, unlimited push notifications, and analytics.
The Startup tier is $160/m ($200/m paid monthly) and takes you up to 2000 active users, and Growth at $270/m ($300/m paid monthly) raises this to 20,000 active users, removes all MobiLoud branding and includes priority support.
With all these tiers, you are able to recreate your site or web app – along with all its functionality and features – within iOS and Android hybrid apps. You also get unlimited push notifications, a ton of features, and hands on support from our team.
Beyond that there is the Corporate plan at $400/m ($500/m paid monthly) that allows for unlimited users, customization, and direct access to our development team through Slack along with other benefits.
The pricing for News and Commerce is similar, but we also operate News on a revenue share model for which users pay nothing up front and get top-quality native news apps in exchange for a share of app ad revenue. On all plans, users will pay a one-off fee of $500 for app submission, which we handle entirely on your behalf.
There’s also the option to join 80% of our customers on our Full Service package for a one-time fee of $1350. On Full Service, we handle all the configuration and set-up of the apps, including undertaking small HTML and CSS-based customizations that you want.
We also prepare all the design assets you need for submission to the App Stores, saving you a significant sum compared to preparing them yourself. Full Service is for you if you just want apps launched as fast as possible, without having to do any work yourself. If you compare this to the thousands of dollars you’d pay BuildFire to do the work for you, it’s a very efficient investment.
It is hard to compare MobiLoud and BuildFire pricing directly as they are in the same ballpark and are for different use cases – though in terms of developer support, push notifications supported, and potential features MobiLoud is definitely more affordable.
It’s a non-issue in a sense. Why? Because if you are right for one of MobiLoud’s platforms – because you want to build mobile apps from your existing site/web app – then there is no comparison. You could only, maybe, achieve a similar result by hiring the BuildFire team for custom development – which would be far more expensive. MobiLoud is certainly a more affordable BuildFire alternative for building mobile apps from your site.
MobiLoud vs Buildfire – Which is Better?
To ask which is better is comparing apples to oranges. MobiLoud is a BuildFire alternative for a specific use case. If you already have a successful website or web app – MobiLoud is undoubtedly better, a more effective and affordable route to the App Stores that allows you to keep all your web functionality.
If you have an idea for an app, and want to build it from scratch because you don’t have a web platform to build off – then BuildFire is better and we can’t really help you there.
Other BuildFire Alternatives
There are other BuildFire alternatives that work in a slightly different way to MobiLoud. Some examples, if you want a drag-and-drop app builder, are:
If you want to convert a website or web app to mobile apps though, none of these other BuildFire alternatives are ideal – but MobiLoud is. Let’s look at why.
Why MobiLoud is the Best BuildFire alternative
MobiLoud is the best BuildFire alternative for the following reasons:
- Keep all your plugins, features, and tools that you already use on the web
- Hands-on developer support on all plans
- Manage everything from your existing codebase
- Unlimited push notifications on all plans
If you’re already successful on the web, forget about building mobile apps from scratch, especially through a template-based builder. You’ll struggle to tediously rebuild what you already have, and you’ll never recreate it optimally.
MobiLoud is the best BuildFire alternative because you’ve already done the hard work, now you can leverage that and get great iOS and Android apps too in just a few weeks, with minimal hassle. The apps will be full featured, fast, and well designed – while preserving everything great about your site!
The idea of converting a website into apps seems odd to some people at first. Doesn’t an app need to be different from a site? Yes and no. It’s important to add all the native elements like a native tab bar, navigation, loading indicators, a message center, and push notifications to give an authentic app experience. With MobiLoud you’ll add all this and more.
Beyond that though, as far as features and functionality – having them very similar or the same is great. Many web apps and mobile apps do exactly the same thing with minor tweaks. A lot of huge tech brands have gone this route too, with Amazon, Basecamp, Quora and many more opting to convert their web platforms to hybrid apps through a webview-based conversion process. Not only is the result often more than satisfactory – but the efficiencies in terms of investment, time to market and ongoing management are huge! For more on these points, check out this article.
As a final point, with MobiLoud you don’t need to worry about paying hundreds of dollars per hour to speak to our developers. We’re on hand 24/7 to help out as part of our service, and we can advise and help you with any technical goals or challenges you come up against. You’ll know our team by name, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how proactive our customer service philosophy is.
Convert any website to iOS and Android apps today!
No matter what your website is, you can turn it into great iOS and Android apps with MobiLoud.
Whether it’s a WordPress site, a WooCommerce store, a PHP web app, a social media platform or a fitness site – or anything inbetween – you can start building apps for your users to enjoy today!
Check out Canvas, News, or Commerce – and read through our FAQ sections to find out the ins and outs. If you think MobiLoud is the BuildFire alternative for you, then get in touch and book a free demo!